What’s behind the media’s non-stop obsession with Trump? Is it fear that he will be a formidable GOP candidate in 2024?
In a recent I&I/TIPP Poll, 61% of GOP primary voters want to see a primary contest between Trump and DeSantis. Trump leads DeSantis 50% to 27% among GOP primary voters. We think a Trump-DeSantis primary challenge is good for the Republican party and a Trump-DeSantis ticket even better.
Even candidates with a single-digit supporter base can constructively contribute to the national discourse, which will benefit the GOP and the nation. In the primary process, our editorial board is not taking sides but viewing it as an opportunity to examine messaging, ideas, and public policy.
Because of Trump’s experience both in the 2016 primaries and at the White House afterwards, his position is unique. He can point to actual things that happened under his watch and those he got right, while his detractors in the media and on the Left will do the same, focusing on January 6, his temperament, and issues that he botched.
His "Make America Great Again" theme in 2015 captivated the world. "Drain the swamp" was another. With just seven words, he communicated brilliantly that as the quintessential Beltway outsider, he was not corrupt like the Washington insiders who had pushed wars forever, raised deficits, and weakened America's global standing. "Fake News" completed the ensemble as his campaign slogans propelled him to victory over an established life-long political figure, Hillary Clinton, whose slogans were a disaster in every sense.
Clinton started with "Breaking down barriers," then tossed it for "Fighting for us." Her third message, "I'm with her," seemed to show a sense of entitlement, a problem that plagued her throughout the campaign. Finally, she came up with "Stronger together," which didn't catch on either.
For the Left, MAGA represents all they hate about the 45th president. They mistakenly think the term is code for taking America back to the days when whites ruled supreme, and minorities were sidelined. Minorities themselves didn't feel that way. Trump's share of the Latino and Black vote in 2016 was the same or higher than Romney's in 2012. In 2020, Trump did better with minorities than he did in 2016. These truths are impressive because the media's attacks on Trump were nonstop.
President Biden and his administration continue to use the term "MAGA Republicans" to represent an inferior political group unworthy of respect. In a nationwide telecast in September, Biden thundered: "MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love."
At CPAC Washington this week, Trump teased his Republican opponents with two slogans. A candy bar claiming "Trump Was Right" was set next to the bright red and white MAGA hat with the number 47 inscribed on the side to indicate that he is running to be the 47th president. Only Grover Cleveland has served two non-consecutive terms as America's 22nd and 24th president.
Voters have already internalized MAGA, but what about the "Trump Was Right" slogan? If Trump begins to employ it, he can repeatedly remind the nation that he was right on nearly every matter in the last seven years.
War. President Biden likes to insist that Russia was Ukraine's aggressor, but what is also true is that during the four years when Trump was in office, Russia did not invade Ukraine. On the contrary, Russia and America partnered with Israel to defeat ISIS. As the world is galloping towards an uncertain future, including towards a non-trivial possibility of nuclear war, America has committed over $115 billion with only destruction to show in the vast Ukrainian steppes. Current estimates to rebuild Ukraine are over $1 trillion, with America on the hook for more than 70% of the cost. And the war is not even over yet. Not setting off a war during his years in office points to international relations and diplomacy that worked. So, in foreign affairs, was Trump right?
Economy: Every metric shows that President Biden has been a disaster on the economy. Inflation has been at 45-year highs, and even the Fed does not seem to know how to tame it without pushing the country into a recession. America was a net energy exporter in December 2019. Today, images of Biden fist-bumping with Saudi Arabia's MBS in the hopes of getting the kingdom to pump more oil - and failing - will make Trump grin in glee. Again, was Trump right?
Middle East. Trump, whose first foreign visit was to Saudi Arabia, had excellent relations with Arab nations. He recognized Jerusalem as Israel's erstwhile capital. Under the Abraham Accords, both the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain acknowledged Israel's sovereignty, enabling the establishment of full diplomatic relations. Trump punished Iran by withdrawing from the JCPOA deal. Biden, who ran on resurrecting JCPOA, finally gave up after being slow to criticize the Mullahs following human rights protests. If we look at how the Middle East treats America these days, was Trump right?
Others. The FBI and the Energy Department think the pandemic was most likely caused by a lab leak, proving that Trump was probably right about the origin of the coronavirus. He was right about Russia, Russia, and Russia when he maintained his innocence and insisted that the Deep State was out to bring him down. He was right about voters losing confidence if states resort to no-excuse mail balloting and drop boxes. Numerous Republican states have passed stringent voter ID laws that strengthened election integrity while improving voter turnout in November. Even habitual election denier Stacey Abrams conceded defeat in a rematch against Georgia governor Brian Kemp. A month later, Georgians decidedly re-elected Democrat Raphael Warnock to drive home the point further.
Trump was also right about warning that NATO powers were not spending their 2% budget pledges to equip themselves militarily. He was laughed at in Europe. Today, Trump has the last laugh as EU weapons stocks are depleting, and several systems are in such a horrible state of disrepair that they can't be shipped to Ukraine.
The Republican campaign hasn't started - the first debate is months away - but Trump's criticisms about the Ukraine war are already helping turn the tide. If Biden is the Democratic nominee in 2024, he will have a hard time painting the war and the state of the economy in a positive light. Trump could win in a rematch by reminding voters he was largely right.